“The present decision making system of the European Union is different from a classic parliamentary democracy, tested and proven by history. In a normal parliamentary system, part of the MPs support the government and part support the opposition. In the European parliament, this arrangement has been missing.”
So said Václav Klaus in his speech to the European Parliament on Thursday. Some MEPs responded by jeering and heckling, notwithstanding that Mr Klaus is a head of state and that the Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Union. What really upset the protestors was this sentence: “Here, only one single alternative is being promoted and those who dare thinking about a different option are labelled as enemies of the European integration.” And here’s how some of our MEPs responded:
Daniel Hannan MEP had this to say on what happened (and didn’t happen) on Thursday. But let’s return to the Klaus speech that so many found so offensive. Consider this:
“Not so long ago, in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that permitted no alternatives and therefore also no parliamentary opposition. It was through this experience that we learned the bitter lesson that with no opposition, there is no freedom. That is why political alternatives must exist.
And not only that. The relationship between a citizen of one or another member state and a representative of the Union is not a standard relationship between a voter and a politician, representing him or her. There is also a great distance (not only in a geographical sense) between citizens and Union representatives, which is much greater than it is the case inside the member countries. This distance is often described as the democratic deficit, the loss of democratic accountability, the decision making of the unelected — but selected — ones, as bureaucratisation of decision making etc. The proposals to change the current state of affairs — included in the rejected European Constitution or in the not much different Lisbon Treaty — would make this defect even worse.
Since there is no European demos — and no European nation — this defect cannot be solved by strengthening the role of the European parliament either.”
Do you find this dishonest, false or untrue? Isn’t Kaus correct when he says that there is no European demos? Whether one can be established by jeering the messenger in February is surely questionable.